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Viacom/Infinity Wants to Keep Indecency Bogeyman at Bay

Viacom/Infinity Wants to Keep Indecency Bogeyman at Bay

With the FCC making good on Chairman Michael Powell’s promise to Congress to act more swiftly on indecency cases, Mel Karmazin doesn’t want Viacom/Infinity to become the test case for license revocation, a punishment that some in Congress are clamoring for in light of the Super Bowl incident.
Viacom is attacking the problem on two fronts: appointing an ethics czar and installing profanity delay equipment in all 180 radio stations.
According to the New York Post, Karmazin “read the riot act to execs of all 180 Infinity radio stations this week … telling them they’ll be fired if they violate the company’s new ‘zero tolerance’ policy on obscenity.”
The paper quoted Karmazin as saying “Don’t screw up” in a company-wide conference call. “If you don’t comply, you’ll be fired for cause,” Karmazin reportedly said. “This company won’t be a poster child for indecency.”
A follow-up memo to Infinity personnel, the Post stated, laid out the situation in more detail.
“Any station airing programming that has any sexual or excretory content needs to take whatever steps are necessary to make sure that the programming is not even arguably indecent,” the memo said. “When in doubt, leave it out,” said the memo, which also ordered all stations to install programming-delay units for on-the-fly censoring.
The broadcaster has appointed attorney Henry Moinz to the newly created position of vice president, associate general counsel, compliance.
“This new position reflects the emphasis of Viacom’s board and senior management on enhancing our culture of honesty and ethics both through education and prompt detection,” said Michael Fricklas, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary.
Mointz comes to the company from Bingham McCutchen in Boston, where he’s been a litigation partner since 1999. Previously, he assisted Democratic members of Congress as minority counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the Clinton impeachment inquiry.
Moinz joins the company Feb. 17.